Friday, September 26, 2008

Mushroom of the Day

a little baby one.
raining today.

an answer to my question

so, as i listened to all the babble about the financial crisis today, i realized the answer to my question about the importance of credit. quite apart from the individual/family, it is small business that relies on credit. so, if i like small business, then i should like credit. nostalgia may pretend that there exists a simple answer to society, but that is of course just not true.

this is the reason why i titled my last post "the dangers of having a blog": because i start spewing about things i think about, regardless of whether i actually know anything about them. then i sound either a)pompous or b)idiotic [or c)all of the above]. this is one reason why i didn't have a blog for a long time. i don't like sharing things that are too personal (my mother and who knows who else reads this) but if i share things too impersonal, i run the risk of being (bumbumbum!) WRONG.

i am a person who thinks a lot and talks a lot. sometimes i sound like i know a lot. but at the end of the day, i am aware that i know pretty much squat.

actually, it's debilitating to have so little confidence in my knowledge, because it makes me afraid to have confidence or make decisions. how can a person have an opinion when there are very smart people out there who have opposite opinions? or when you don't have all the facts?

so, faithful readers of the blog (of which there are none, so i guess my rear is covered), bear with me in my times of error (pomp and idiocracy). and feel free (i beg you) to correct me or add to a discussion. this would pretty much make my week.


in other, more exciting news, i sold my car today! that's a weight off my mind. the longer i can wait before buying another one, the better. the high school girl who bought it seemed quite happy about the investment. and she had cool glasses.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

closing remarks - the danger of having a blog

"Recently, we've seen how one company can grow so large that its failure jeopardizes the entire financial system." -Bush in today's speech about the proposed $700 Billion financial bailout.

Personally, this is how I feel about megastores like Walmart. I know it's a completely different thing from Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, and (reaching further back) Enron etc. Nevertheless the principles can be applied: too much of our money goes into one company and its failures affect us all. In financial institutions these failures are such as we've seen in the news recently. In the retail sector, these failures include product quality, job outsourcing, poor employee treatment, and (an underappreciated problem) aesthetic tyranny.

Ok, so I have nostalgic preference for buying local and locally-owned small business. That is how I would like my life to function -- small circles. Knowing where my purchasing dollars go, even if I'm spending more of them for fewer (but essential) things.

Anyway, after that tangent...

I did not see Bush's speech, but read it, and actually thought it was pretty good (considering, I mean, it IS Bush). It provided a synopsis of the mortgage deflation and ensuing financial crisis that a civilian like myself could understand. It made his plan look pretty good. He even says it will partially (mostly? maybe completely?) pay itself back. Even I know enough to see that as optimistic.

The speech revealed to what extent our economy depends on credit. Buying houses, cars, and college education -- all need credit purchasing power. Watch out, Americans! Bush says. The way things are going, someday, in the very near future, you might not be able to buy things you can't afford!!

Now, I understand that mortgages are necessary for buying houses, and I am the current holder of certain college loans that I think are worthwhile, but all in all, Americans buy way too much on credit. Everyone has credit debt. No one saves money. Financial consultants are always warning us about this problem. Everyone knows debt is a big mistake, but most of us do it anyway.

We can feel patriotic about going into debt. Spending makes the world go round. At least, it keeps our markets moving in the direction we like them to move. If we didn't spend, there wouldn't be Christmas.

How did you spend your Economic Stimulus tax rebate? Remember that? Well, now that you've spent that money on a Wii, be prepared to give it all back, with mucho interest, over the next umpteen years to pay for this big governmental buy out. (Also, be prepared to pay for surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.)

What would our world look like without as many ways to go into debt? Would everything collapse, allowing China to stage its big takeover? Bush certainly thinks so. You haven't bought a new car since 2006! You might as well be a Communist!

Money. The big world. It all makes me want to crawl off the grid.

Maybe I will someday. As soon as I've paid off my debt...

and.... Mushroom of the Day

A guest post today! These awesome pictures were sent to me by a friend who found them in Chicago area. They might be Amanita type - related to the Death Cap and a whole slew of psychotropic shrooms - but even the experts say not to identify fungi from a photograph, so there's no way that someone like me could say for sure.

Either way, the obvious choice is not to eat them. But we all learned that lesson when we were small, right? Thanks wings.

Science Friday

NPR's Science Friday (hooray) recently did an episode on fungi.

There is this great film clip that i really enjoyed.

The episode featured guest Kathy Hodge, editor of this super cool blog. I would love to study mycology and/or ecology at Cornell, but of all my options, that would be really stretching. I need to find a program in an area (ecosystem) that intrigues me - most likely deciduous forest - and that will allow me to sneak into a Biology Masters program without having studied Biology in undergrad. Cornell is one of the, arguably THE best place to study agricultural and natural sciences. Their focus lies more on pathogenic mycology - trying to track down the fungal causes of plant (and human) diseases - which is much less of my interest than the role mushrooms play in the nutrient cycles of a forest.


Today is Wednesday.
I leave Sunday.

Oh, and I may be staying until May afterall.

Blast off.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fungus of the Day

by Dr. William Dillon Weston (1899-1953), a mycologist at the University of Cambridge. He made this collection of fungus (mostly mold) to demonstrate the disease-causing agents. Glass provided a perfect material becasue hydrae fibers are generally transparent. One major drawback - their fragility.

Blaschka's Glass

went to Harvard's Museum of Natural History last week to see Blaschka's glass flowers. these works appeal to me on so many levels - the fusion of science and art for one, and also that they come from the very fascinating period in history when the entire natural world was catalogued in a massive effort by scientists, adventurers, and amateurs worldwide.

also saw the temporary exhibit of invertebrate sea creatures - comissioned before the flowers in response to the problem that these ephemeral creatures (jellyfish, octupi, squid, anemone, sea slugs, etc) were not easily preservable for study in the classroom. have you ever seen a pickled sea creature? not so pretty - a slump of whitish material on the bottom of a glass jar.

After the flowers, Rudolfo Balschka (the son, in his seventies by this point), finished his career making models of rotting and blighted fruits as well as fungi, ferns and mosses. right up my alley - yum. unfortunately, i am having difficulty tracking down this collection - where is it housed now?
apparently, only one other glass collection of fungi exists. (see above)

the whole experience was deliciously inspiring - i especially loved the close ups of the flower organs, for example cross sections of the ovaries. i did not take my camera, because in my mind taking pictures in a museum is highly taboo, so i have no photo evidence.

therefore i bought this book: ---------------->>
i'm taking it to italy and have decided to take my oil paints that i was initially planning to leave home. i've been sitting on this project since spring; i can't put it off any longer. it's itching to get out of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Steampunk Dinner Party, anyone?

New York Times has recently had two food articles with Steampunk references. We need to celebrate with a Victorian evening of frankenfoods and apotheke. Who's in?

Illustration by Thomas Herpich

strange twists

I am trying to follow the unexpected (the spontaneous) and allow the Dao to carry me along.

A problem arises when other people are involved. This tends to make things difficult in a variety of ways.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mushroom of the Day

notice the centipede

1431 Colorado

Sunday I come home to an empty house. Couches - gone. Tables - gone. Bags of trash and miscellany occupy the living room floor where furniture used to hide the dust bunnies. A bag of food hangs from my hand until I hoist it onto the kitchen counter. I start to heat some water to make food, but then I open cupboards and find them emptied of plates, glasses, silverware... Even the can opener is gone. I bang on my can uselessly.

I wander up to my room, which still comfortably explodes with possessions. Even though all the interesting papers have come off the wall and the exposed holes boast fresh spackle - despite the giant bag of trash and giant bag of donations and giant suitcases - even so, my room still welcomes me - home.

When I finally punch holes in the can top to make a sauce for my last box of pasta, I sit on my bed and eat with an abandoned pair of chopsticks. After another hour or so of stirring stuff around in my room (ineffectual packing), I leave to find solace at another person's place.

The next time I return to the little house, my housemates (whoever remains of them) and a few kindred souls have created a campout in the front steps. The last remains of our candles - wax nubs of various shapes, colors, smells - slowly melt into the cement and grass where they burn. They illuminate furtive faces. A bottle of wine - then another - gets passed around. We lounge outside on couch cushions reclaimed from our landlord's junk pile. Music drips from the living room out onto our candlelit ears. We lay on the grass, long skirts hiked up to our knees, looking up at Michigan's nightly cloud cover, feeling the green blades and puppy ears between our fingers.

The need for yet another bottle sends me inside for a minute to the bare house. One bulb burns in the yellow kitchen, casting shadows into the purple dining room and a warm glow to the red-walled living room. My footsteps, which swish my skirt around my ankles, echo in the empty rooms. It is a shell. A physical shell, one that only has meaning when full of things and furniture and the people to claim them. Room delineations are useless when there is no table to make the dining room a dining room, no couch to make the living room anything but four red walls. A virtual shell, one that has held many people and many memories - lives that intertwined there, encounters of all kinds but mostly for good.

Sometimes over the two years I lived there I would hear voices. A laugh, two girls laughing, and I would think my housemates were home, but a search never turned up a person. Others in the house also heard them, and we affectionately called the laughing our ghost. On our ghost we could explain the frequent peculiar appearance of unclaimed items, perhaps left by prior tenants or forgotten by guests, but chalked up to our friendly poltergeist.

Now I can hear laughing. The sounds come from the front door, where the bohemian merrymaking of my friends calls me.

I feel like a squatter, claiming a house of illicit pleasures where minds go wandering on lacy green smoke clouds. We embrace each other without touching. We are a handful of free spirits, forgetting for an evening trouble with our landlord and tensions between girls and the imminent departure date screaming at us from calendar pages. Calendar pages mean nothing to us now. We are floating on stolen time, buoyed up by the humid, thunder-laden breeze. Warm water drops and distant flashes are the only things that root us in a time, in the first storm of summer.

Our fingertips find each other when the rain comes to smatter our upturned faces. Like that - hands clasped, a wet boy on one side of me and a wet puppy on the other - we laugh. The house behind us sucks in the laugh, chew on it, adds our spirit and our memories to the collective ghost of its presence. This laugh will echo with the others, flitting about the ceiling and the secret nooks. It will reach down and caress the new tenants, another group of girls who will fill the house again with the material things and the daily activity that makes life. It will beckon them into the mysteries of female friendship and whisper the freedom of a night in the rain. It will invite them to look past possessions and interpersonal frustrations and pressing obligations into the furtive faces of a few kindred souls.

The house is now just a shell, emptied, but of all the nights spent here I know I will forever remember it just like this - empty of stuff, but full of us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mushroom of the Day

After I took this current batch of pictures I showed my parents and they were amazed at how much variety and color and, frankly, beauty there is the fungal life of their backyard. Guess they don't spend as much time with their noses an inch away from the grass as I do.

Today I read The Tao of Pooh and washed my car. Ooh does she ever look pretty.

I love sending mail. Often I don't do it for long periods at a time, but right now I am on a mail-making spree. So if you (even if I don't know you) want something via post, get me your address.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mushroom of the Day

copyright EOliver 2008

Someday I will start identifying mushrooms. I don't have a guide yet, and it's not easy to do via looks alone (that is, comparing to other photos online). Anyone want to buy me a present? David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified will be my first acquisition. Eventually.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

hello moto

welcome to my blog.

in a few weeks i'm headed off to milan for three months. this has finally inspired me to start a blog, but it will hold a lot more than just travel updates. i hope you will enjoy.

In anticipation of moving to MILAN, I am watching the fashion collection for Spring 2009. This week is Fashion Week in New York City. I am enjoying the coverage smattered all over the internet.

For example, I love the steampunk flair in this couple's outfit:

and it amuses me that I have these jeans:
at least i'll have something cool.

I will miss Milan's fashion week by just two days - the last event being the 27th. Not that I would be attending any of the events anyway.

I am eager to experience the fashion culture of Milan. From what I understand, the attitude is much less lenient than NYC or London, where there is a wide variety of styles to be found roaming the streets. In Milan the expectation is to be well-heeled, period. And well-heeled means the most recent collection from the top brands, complete with matching shoes and handbag. Not exactly my cup of tea.

This summer I met a lot of Italian teens at my job in California. For the most part teenagers dress like teenagers and I'm not going to take my fashion advice from them. But when, for a night on the town, all the boys show up in dress khakis, button down shirts, sweaters around their shoulders and pennyloafers, it suggests something about the style standard in their city. The prevalence of LaCoste reinforces that this is the epitome of PREPPY. Not to mention how excited they all were to buy Tiffany jewelry in San Francisco.

I'm sure I'll find my niche.
For the most part I really enjoy this year's fashion, at least as it hits the street.
Here's a fun website of streetside photos from NYC this week:
and of course the best place to find photos and reporting on the runway shows is the New York Times: